Why Nursing Homes Still Have an Edge on Home Care Despite Consumer Preference

While the home has emerged as the care setting seniors most prefer over the course of pandemic, with some older adults exploring new ways towards that path, there continue to be significant barriers to that becoming a reality for many.

Nursing homes may still be able to separate themselves from home-based care by the higher acuity care they are able to provide.

Roughly 30% of respondents indicated they would favor care in a long-term care facility, compared to 50% of the respondents who preferred care in the home.

In fact, the two most common themes surrounding why consumers said they’d prefer their loved one to be cared for in a long-term care facility were the greater attention they could receive with 24/7 staff, and the ability to quickly respond to any situation with all needed resources and expertise readily at hand, a national consumer survey revealed by Transcend Strategy Group.

Approximately 41% of respondents said having professional, trained specialized staff proved a major factor, as did having access to staff or equipment (38%).

However, COVID-19 hesitancy remains among consumers, especially as it pertains to loved ones receiving health care. When asked if the ongoing pandemic would make them hesitant about having a family member receive care across different settings, 75% said they would be hesitant about SNF care compared to just 22% for in-home care.

Concern over in-home care dropped significantly in 2022 compared to poll numbers released in 2020, while SNF care showed little change as pandemic-related fears appear to be higher for in-facility care.

Nursing homes staff vaccination rates have soared over the course of 2022 but with a new variant emerging in certain parts of the world, including the United States, nursing homes may not be out of the woods with its pandemic response.

Still, financial and medical barriers also continue to exist in-home care becoming a reality for many older adults, according to the University of Michigan Institute for Healthcare Policy.

While most older adults feel it is very important for them to stay in their home for as long as possible, many are not prepared to age in place, a recent report from the university, supported by AARP and Michigan Medicine, revealed.

Between January and February of this year, the University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging asked a national sample of adults about their perspectives on aging in place. In all, 88% of people between the ages of 50 and 80 said it was very or somewhat important to them that they live in their homes as long as possible. But only 15% said they’ve given a lot of consideration to how their home may need to be modified as they age, while 47% have given it little or no thought

“AARP research consistently shows that the majority of older adults want to stay in their homes and communities for as long as possible,” said Indira Venkat, AARP vice president, consumer insights, said in the report. “Unfortunately, most houses weren’t built to support the needs of people across the many stages of life.”

Though the White House has repeatedly stated its commitment to home-and-community-based services, successfully aging in place typically requires appropriate social support and more than two in five older adults were not confident that they could afford to pay for additional help they might need, the poll revealed.

“[Aging in place] is an important goal for many older adults and their families. Without home modifications and additional support from others, however, unexpected medical events and declines in health can make it challenging to remain in one’s home,” the report said.

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